An estimated one in three Americans pack their cars with people and presents over the holiday season and take to the roads for their celebrations, according to AAA, a nonprofit organization for motor clubs.
As traffic increases, so too does the chance the trip may not end as merrily as expected. Fortunately, incorporating preventative steps into holiday travel plans can help ensure motorists arrive before the table is set for dinner instead of after everyone has finished dessert.
Before embarking on a holiday excursion, AAA recommends getting the vehicle making the trip inspected to ensure its tires, brake lights, turn signals, brake fluid, etc. will last the span of the drive. The organization recommends mapping the route to a destination in advance, anticipating increases in traffic and the weather. Having roadside assistance set up and a phone charger might also come in handy.
While on the road, ensure each person in the vehicle is correctly using an appropriate safety harnesses, whether that be a seat belt, child safety seat, or booster seat.
If traveling with children, accompany them into any bathroom and remind them not to talk to strangers. AAA recommends keeping valuables in the trunk of the car while traveling in order to help prevent theft, and the American Red Cross encourages drivers to be “well rested and alert,” additionally making arrangements to have multiple drivers in case tiredness or intoxication becomes an issue.
Perhaps the most important tip is to “expect the unexpected on the road,” according to Safe Kids Worldwide. As tempting as it can be to reverse the two, safety should be the priority rather than making good time. Remember: No text message or play list is worth the risk. Last year AAA planned to rescue nearly 900,000 drivers during the end-of-year travel season, and the National Safety Council anticipated between 250 and 350 vehicle fatalities.
However, buckling up, slowing down and avoiding distraction greatly increases the chances of motorists’ holiday travel outlooks remaining merry and bright.